June 12, 2020

A time for empathy

We are almost halfway through 2020. And what an eventful year we’ve had.

At the same time, it has been a divisive year. Inequalities everywhere came into the spotlight. It’s not just the divide between the haves and the have-nots. There are also issues of racism. And divide between ideologies in global politics.

With so many conflicts going on, you wonder whether our nations can be healed. And will the second half of the year be better?

As humans, we love to categorise things. The simpler and lesser the number of categories, the better. For example, you might consider yourself either an introvert or an extrovert. Or maybe even an ambivert.

But we forgot that humanity is diverse. We don’t fall into neat categories. Even the introversion-extroversion scale is a continuum. It’s not an either-or thing.

Whenever we consider ourselves as part of any group, we need to remember that even within the group, we are all different from one another. We each have our unique preferences and quirks.

And that is why empathy is so important.

We need to remember that the labels we use for the ‘other’ group are generalisations. They may not apply to every person in the group.

We need to be able to listen to one another. To understand each other’s perspectives and how we came to our conclusions about one another.

If we don’t go through the same experiences, we might never understand the worldview of one another. But we can try. Empathy allows us to try. It helps to set the stage for a deeper understanding of one another.

Even if we end up disagreeing with one another, empathy allows us to agree to disagree.

If there’s a time that we need empathy the most, it’s probably now. And hopefully, as we all bring whatever empathy we can muster to the table, deeper conversations can happen.

Then perhaps, the second half of the year will be better.

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